OVERNIGHT TECH: Senate to probe digital privacy

THE LEDE: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on ways to prevent data breaches and protect users’ sensitive information in the wake of headline-grabbing hacks at major retailers.

In February, the full committee will hold a hearing to examine “privacy in the digital age." Witnesses have not yet been announced.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) had pledged to hold a hearing on data security after holiday season hacks at Target and Neiman Marcus grabbed the public's attention. Target’s data breach exposed the credit card data, names, email addresses and other personal information of up to 110 million shoppers.

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Lawmakers have called for congressional action since details about the hacks were disclosed late last year. Leahy cited the news when he reintroduced his Personal Data Privacy and Security Act last week for the fifth time, and other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also said that the incidents highlight the need for a new law. On Wednesday, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) introduced a new bill requiring companies to act when consumers' data have been hacked. 

The Judiciary Committee hearing will be held on Feb. 4.

ACLU fears Obama won’t end data collection: American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony Romero is worried that President Obama won’t declare an end to controversial National Security Agency (NSA) bulk data collection. Citing a New York Times report that Obama would allow the administration to continue collecting vast amounts of data about almost all Americans’ phone calls until Congress acts, Romero said that the president would be “passing the buck.”

“If the speech is anything like what is being reported, the president will go down in history for having retained and defended George W. Bush’s surveillance programs rather than reformed them,” he said in a statement.

Obama is planning to deliver a speech on Friday outlining which reforms he supports to rein in the NSA's surveillance. 

Markey cheers Apple settlement: Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) applauded the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for reaching a settlement with Apple that will return at least $32.5 million to consumers whose children unknowingly spent money at its App Store. Wednesday’s deal will refund parents who did not know they were approving their children’s purchases and seek to prevent similar purchases from happening again.

“Closing this loophole means children won’t be opening their parents’ wallets because they don’t comprehend the consequences of in-app purchases,” Markey said in a statement. “I commend Apple for the changes it has made to address this issue. As the use of mobile apps continues to escalate, I encourage the Commission to continue to provide information to all consumers about the marketing and delivery of these applications, especially those targeted to children.”

Markey wrote the FTC in 2011 calling for an investigation into the way users spend money as they interact with an app.

Kanye beats Coinye: Rapper Kanye West seems to have beaten the creators of a digital currency based on his name. After issuing a cease and desist order and then suing to stop production of the Coinye West, the site selling the virtual money has shut down.

“You win, Kanye,” the anonymous creators wrote.

West’s lawyers had claimed that the currency, which is depicted with a cartoon version of the rapper’s face, violates trademark.

The online money might not be dead for good, though. A new site popped up on Wednesday afternoon that seemed to exchange the virtual currency once more. 

 

ON TAP

Both the House Oversight and Science committees will hold hearings on the security of HealthCare.gov Thursday morning. The Science, Space and Technology Committee will meet at 9:00 a.m. and the Oversight panel will gather at 9:30 a.m.

The Senate Commerce Committee will discuss problems in locating 911 calls at 10:30 a.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Apple will pay at least $32.5 million in refunds to families whose children spent money on mobile applications without their parents’ consent. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has joined the social media application Snapchat.

The Republican National Committee is pushing to win the data "space race" heading into the 2014 elections.

Lawmakers in the Senate unveiled a new data security bill that aims to protect consumers from having their identities stolen or being harmed by fraud. 

The NSA has reportedly installed software on nearly 100,000 computers around the world to conduct surveillance on them.

 

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